There has, for centuries, been a belief that animals can predict natural disasters. For example, there is good evidence that many animals know when earthquakes and tsunamis are imminent.
- Just before the tsunami crashed into southern India in 2005, animals ran from the coast to the safety of a nearby hilltop. A herd of antelope stampeded from the shoreline ten minutes before the waves hit. In Sri Lanka, where thousands of people were killed, all the wild animals (elephants, leopards, deer, etc.) managed to survive at the Yala National Park on the coast. The animals all escaped before the waves hit. Throughout the area there was only one report of a dead animal as a result of the tsunami.
- In California, it has been reported that horses will not let people ride them when earthquakes are due.
- In China, in 1975, snakes emerged from hibernation to escape being buried when an earthquake hit the city of Haicheng.
- The Chinese Government has published an official booklet describing animal signs that precede, and therefore predict, earthquakes. Tell-tale signs include cattle and horses refusing to enter their corrals, rats leaving their hiding places and running around wildly and fish jumping out of the water.
- Before major earthquakes and floods, small mammals leave their burrows and cattle migrate to high ground.
- Desert tortoises in the Nevada desert in the USA dig shallow holes in rocky soil to catch rain when they sense that there is a storm coming.
- Sheep will run for shelter when they sense bad weather coming. The sky may be blue - with no signs of an impending storm - when they start running.
- Cats can predict earthquakes. When an earthquake is coming a cat will do everything it can to get out of any building, and if they have kittens they will take the kittens with them. In the hours before an earthquake hits, cats get extremely agitated. They have often been seen scratching at doors to be let out, or simply hurrying outside. The Chinese always used to rely on cats to predict earthquakes and other natural disasters.
No one yet knows how animals do this. Do they hear or feel the rumblings of an earthquake? Do they feel the changes in the earth's electromagnetic field? Or do they sense a change in atmospheric pressure? Whatever the explanation, it seems reasonable to conclude that if you see animals running from somewhere you should leave too. If your cat suddenly picks up its kittens and heads for the door maybe you should follow.
Taken from The Wisdom of Animals by D.A.Coleman and Vernon Coleman, available as a paperback and an eBook.